03 February 2010

miss c

Miss C.

Of my three kids, her birth, her story, her experience, her time with me – they are the strongest and most distinct. She is astoundingly unique in personality, a pixie of a girl who loves all things Littlest Pet Shop, works to be just as big as her older brother and yet tries her hardest to play with the little one as well. Still waters truly run deep with her as she will ponder and turn over many a thing in her mind that you had no idea she gave a second thought to; her contemplative remarks astonish us every time. She is artistic and has a soft, sweet voice (unless she's mad).

I speak of her birth, for reasons some of you already know or will recall now that I mention it. For those of you who do not know, you can read the story of her birth here.

The trauma of that day was only the beginning of a journey. I blogged for many months of the therapies we took her to, the progress, and finally the dismissal. Indeed, it was during this time that my humble little blog finally sprung to life. I am going to summarize a bit of that time for anyone who does not know the extent of her story:

I have a difficult time giving birth (yes, me, lover of all-natural, drug-free births) – all three of my babies got stuck in the same manner, shoulder dystocia. The difference with Miss C was that she was unusually large and therefore "extra stuck", resulting in nerve damage. At birth, she could not move her arm and her hand only flexed a little, though that was a sign of encouragement to the doctors. During the six months of physical therapy that followed we exercised her arm every single day, we took her to a surgeon for evaluations and follow ups, we read up on brachial plexus injuries and learned that the extent of damage could vary widely. In many cases, the nerve is torn completely and micro surgery can possibly help….for some children, one arm may never function properly, may always be shorter than the other, and may require multiple surgeries. For others, the function will return within days or weeks since the damage was more of a stretching or bruising of the nerve.

I recall specifically having an appointment with the surgeon to discuss her progress when she was about 3 months old. They did not look encouraged as her progress was slow and should have taken a clear turn, even recovered completely, if the injury was mild enough. Without further marked improvement, they were going to consider surgery. We sent emails to our friends detailing her needs, asking for prayer. That very week, the tide began to turn for her and a specific muscle began to flex, then another and another. At six months old, she was discharged with the directive to have a yearly evaluation done until she turned five. There are not words for the relief we felt.

As you see, this year marks something very large for her, and for me. In truth it makes my heart race and a bit of panic to set in. Her four year old evaluation showed a need for some work on her hand that we were to do at home. And we did do it. Just not as diligently as I imagined. She was willing. But I had Baby J always underfoot and on the go along with Little B going through some very hard times. So I simply did not get much done for her this time. I remember her as a new baby, so faithfully stretching and working on her little arm. This time was very different. We had her ring out wet washcloths in the tub, used large "tweezer-weezers" to pick up and move cotton balls, squeeze things with the forefinger and thumb. In normal, practical ways, we encourage her to use and stretch the weaker hand. But it does not feel like I did it often enough.

The lasting results of this injury are not ones you would see if you met her, but ones I see when I have her stretch out her hand and place both palms up and one does not lay flat, or if I ask her to raise both arms straight up in the air and one elbow does not go completely straight; it's her shoulder blade sticking out just a bit more than the other. Little things. So, as the time to schedule her evaluation approaches, I tremble a bit. I worry I have failed her here at the very end. I find myself intensely emotional.

I have a small collection of Willow Tree figures. The day Miss C was born, my mother gave me one I had wanted, of a mother holding her new baby, Angel of Mine. As she pulled out the bag that held it, the bag dropped. My figure dropped and broke. At that moment in time, everything was too much for me to think on it and I had her just set it aside, assuring her it was not a big deal. Once home, that bag was set in another room and temporarily forgotten. Weeks later, I dug it up and only then did I even remember the incident. And I bawled. And bawled some more.

But most of all, I remember that on that day five years ago, I was abundantly clear that my God has a plan for my little girl. Without a doubt, He wanted her here on earth for His purpose. And throughout that traumatic day, I had deep, abiding peace.

I see this plan slowly taking shape as she grows. Just a week ago, she was asking me seriously about Jesus being in our hearts. I spoke some of how He can be there and what He did for us, then suggested she talk to Him about it, think about what it means. She told me it was important to consider. He is moving in her heart.

Happy birthday to my special girl.


StephieAnne said...

Wow, what an amazing story. Being surrounded by friends with children who have vision issues (requiring therapy), speech issues (requiring therapy), autism (requiring much more than therapy) - and so on - I think we all know how hard we can be on ourselves and how tremendous the guilt can be. I will be praying for you that the 5 year evaluation shows marked improvement - so much that there is no longer need for active therapy - that time and the increased activity in growing up will solve it. (Maybe that's not realistic, but it sounds good).

When my (currently 8 year old) daughter was 2 months old, we discovered she had some sort of mass in her cheek muscle. No one had answers - lots of imagings were done, but nothing really concrete showed up. The doctors were concerned she had muscle cancer and were deliberating cutting her cheek open to do a biopsy. Even that action could have severed her facial nerve which would have forever kept her from being able to smile. But, we agonized that ignoring a potential cancer would be even worse.

Ultimately, the doctors were able to review the films enough and determine it wasn't cancer. (We ultimately came to the conclusion that it was a mass originating from the trauma of coming out very rapidly......she had a very fast delivery - and it's basically just disappeared over time). Just like you described, I remember where and when it was that I got that phone call telling me surgery wasn't necessary. The tears, the relief - and of course, the praising of God!

cjoy said...

I love when God solves the problems - which is His job - and our hands are truly left empty of decision making. The feeling of needing to decide about a surgery for a child is so desparately difficult. Is this the one wearing braces now? I haven't quite figured out who everyone is yet. ;)

I covet your prayers - and they are not at all unrealistic. When our friends prayed so many years ago, the changes were drastic and unexpected. I do think increased activity and growing up will be have a huge impact. That is exactly what I was told.

StephieAnne said...

Yes, she's the one in braces. Just one boy and one girl....

I will be praying!

Hannah said...

So moving. And proof that He knows what we need better than we do. I believe sometimes He DOES give us more than we can handle -- just so we can grow into dependency on Him. Your little one seems to be a wonderful instrument in that process.

cjoy said...

I agree, Hannah - He does give us more than we can handle...because THEN God can, God is, God will.

Donnetta said...

I don't know that I had heard this part of your journey before. One moment, one step at a time friend!

I do know how easy it is to beat ourselves up over the could have, should have, would have.

So often I feel defeated in my days, but it's then that I remember it's only through the grace and strength of God I can endure those moments of discouragement, disappointment and frustration.

How wonderfully exciting to hear the questions of her little heart as they search truth and Jesus for herself! :-)